Yes! I do have PMS. Right now actually (I think). So I was pleased to come across this interview from Well+Good today. Even though we know that diet and lifestyle affect our hormones, being reminded by a health practitioner is, well, reassuring. And it also gives back a bit of a sense of control, which is nice too.
What affects your PMS?
Here’s the interview:
Many women assume that the awful PMS they endure—complete with cramping, headaches, lower back pain, and breakouts—is just par for the course.
But Meg Richichi, MS, LAc, an integrative women’s health practitioner, says that it doesn’t have to be that way. While out-of-wack hormones account for PMS symptoms, the cause of their wackiness could be your diet.
New York women’s hormones are constantly under attack, says Richichi, by a combination of culprits—stress, lack of sleep, and especially unbalanced diets.
Why is diet such a big deal? “Eighty percent of who we are comes through our gut,” says Richichi. “The building blocks of our hormones are what we eat, assimilate, and eliminate.”
Instead of masking the symptoms with Midol, Richichi recommends getting your hormones under control. Here’s where you should start:
1. Stress less.
When you’re super stressed, the nutrients in your body that create healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone are are busy just keeping your body in survival mode. “The signal that tells you to stress is the same one that tells you to ovulate,” says Richichi. If it’s all tied up, you’re going to have issues.
2. Sleep more.
A good night’s sleep will help with stress. But more importantly, sleep is a crucial time for hormone regulation. The longer and sounder you sleep, the more time your hormones will have to reset. And close the blinds—the light from a street lamp can disrupt the process.
Since share is in the air today, I’m going to tell you how it is that I came to abandon twenty or so odd years of vegetarianism in favor of a little conscious meat eating. Not exactly standard inspirational fare for Meatless Monday I know, but I’d like to open up the forum to discuss how it is that some people thrive as vegetarians and vegans, while others flat out fail—and not for lack of trying. Because as much as Siobhan and I support eating less meat (which is what MM is all about)—and probably about 99% of carnivores could stand to cut some out—we mostly support everyone finding what is right for their body. Sans dogma!
Now, I’ve definitely heard people say that cutting out meat and dairy has helped their energy levels, their PMS, their digestion, and their skin! And I truly wish that was my story.
But it’s not. See, several months ago—when I was still a mostly-vegetarian-sometimes-vegan-sometimes-fish-eater—I was not feeling good at all. My digestion was a nightmare, which it had been for years. I was tired to the point of having trouble getting up. My mind was dull. I was generally disinterested by most things. And I wasn’t getting my period. It was just awful.
I’m well aware that these are also all symptoms of depression, but I can’t emphasize how much they were manifesting in a physical way as well (mind-body-duh, of course). But it made it very challenging to pull out of this fog. For instance, I would try to do yoga and get extremely dizzy. And I literally felt PMS all the time. Various types of anemia were hypothesized, along with thyroid issues, and B12 deficiencies. Ultimately, my blood work pointed to an excess of a certain hormone (prolactin) and no good explanation for why there was so much of it.
Thanks to several alternative health practitioners, I was able to get back on track (and back to menstruating). But all three of them told me to start integrating some form of red meat into my diet. Now, that’s not the only thing I did—herbs, supplements, and working on healthier boundaries were also in the mix—but it has seemed to help with my energy and most definitely with my digestion. Amazingly, veggie-centric dinners leave me bloated and uncomfy, while a grass-fed hamburger makes my tummy happy. For some reason eating vegetarian during the day is good though, so I often practice a vegan before 6pm routine.
So who here thrives as a veg and who can’t stomach it? Do you think it’s a question of blood type (I’m an O)? Or maybe it’s a dosha thing? As always, we want to hear your stories.
Regardless, I’m learning to accept and maybe even embrace my occasional meat eating. It took a little time to get used to it, but now I’m actually finding it liberating to not be so strict with myself.
Image from old Time Magazine cover
And we don’t mean Cheetos, though we love them as much as the next guy. We mean like actual, beneficial (or at least slightly less sinful) snacks. If you’ve read our book, you know we have a whole chapter on nutrition, because we believe that food and lifestyle choices are as important as products in how we feel and look (big duhs). So we want to hear from you—what do you eat when you need to calm the monsters that sometimes pop out of your brain (and mouth and face) the week leading up to your period?
We’ve tried a bunch of things, from doubling our doses of evening primrose oil, B12 and omega 3s in an effort to keep our hormones in check, to going raw or vegan for the seven days before. Have you tried anything that works? And what’s your perfect PMS dinner?
Here, I’ll go first. My perfect dinner is olive oil drenched oven potatoes (basically fries, but like, not) with a greek-yogurt-sriracha mix for dipping, spinach and salmon salad loaded with veggies, a side of asparagus and then coconut sorbet if I want dessert. Asparagus is a diuretic, salmon is great for skin and hormones, veggies are just plain good and anything from the fry family is my favorite thing to eat ever. So that satisfies my very strong desire for fats (the good kind!) and salt (the good kind! just kidding) and crunchiness—without making me feel worse.